HD1080i De-mystify HDTV 1080i ::: know why before you buy

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Internet Movie downloads - DRM for the masses

DRM = CRM without the love.

Digital Rights Management & Customer Relationship Management.

My experience was a total failure in a situation free of human assistance., here are real situations, both involve Windows Media Player DRM deployments by 3rd party movie download vendors, Amazon UNBOX and STARZ: Vongo.


This all happened on a nice clean auto-update enabled WINXP setup. After buying the clip, it tells me i need a one-time install of a player. Fine... i started clicking, downloading, accepting, nexting and clicking, and yet more this and that... until

Hmmm. Would i like to run system diagnostics?.

No. i want to see my downloaded movie. I wall all good with this unbox right up to the last moment of high expectation that i would see something.

I had to download an application and apparently that was not enough, and now it wants to run amok in my stuff? My suspicions were that it was about to check working codecs in this system and possibly break an otherwize perfectly running setup. I edit HD video and author video from my own camera, i can't have my system develop new problems.

This extra diagnostic to download is all about DRM and preventing me from doing anything i'm not supposed to do or have, without warning me what that might be. Everything I saw was not real helpful about what it will do to me in the process.

So i allowed it to diagnose anyhow, mostly so i could tell you about it, and praying that it wouldnt do something without asking. Well that was a misguided hope. It was not just troubleshooting. It was Patching. Patching WHAT? Stuff that it just downloaded or stuff that was already installed by other applications? It did not report findings and ASK permission. Bad Move. "Diagnose" means find out something. This is what i saw:

Ahem. Troubleshooting?

Eventually after all that, it did a patch to something but it failed anyhow in a forever loop of telling me a DRM problem exists. Click and click and it left me short $2.99 and with a lame link to customer support. In all fairness to Amazon, i stopped there and gave up, even though the system persisted in trying to help me become a happy DRM-enabled Unbox user. Uninstalled that one and ....

I went to the Next One VONGO.
I liked it, but long story short, it failed also with a windows media DRM error.
They didnt warn me that Windows Media was the player, or that 300kbps was the best speed i would get, untill well after the SignUp and Pay Process was completed. Bad Move. So i surfed the interface and picked out a movie. click download. A small popup outside the vongo player was all i got, & that said all my efforts were not going to result in a download. Vongo had an error.
... yet more frustration, i finally resort to asking vongo screens for help...

Apparently the WMP is in need of some unique key or something. The Next screen says click in Internet Explorer only - now i know its vongo relying on Miscrosoft for way too much. If you plan on using Vongo then try this click: ( it should ask for a user / and password )

.. So i did. WMP pops up.. it is yet another window ...

and Windows Media player refuses to do anything. Clicked The Web Help button...that provides a very cryptic windows web page full of geektalk and error numbers that indicate my sound device is disabled or doesnt work, which is untrue... and identifies a multi-step system check that i would have to do. Apparently it cant deal with my system and i have to technically intervene. If that link above works for you then maybe Vongo will work for you also, but that should have been a test provided right at the start, and now i'm unsubscribing and clicking whatever escape path i can find. * REDUX: Microsoft must have found my article, they removed the geek page it launched. All you get now is "You've encountered error message C00D11B1" ( what can i say - this site gets a lot of reads )

NOT a good user experience at this point. A WINDOWS DRM FAILURE. I suspect that if you have even a tiny issue you are not going to succeed. So i updated yet again my windows Media Player and it says it's fine. Hello? I had planned to report on how the state of Web enabled movie downloads was progressing... but i cant right now, and it cost me 13 bucks to make this report.

End result of DRM encounter... BAD USER EXPERIENCE WITH THE PROCESS. I will not be giving it a second chance or re-attempt the effort since there is so much great stuff elsewhere. Take a lesson you guys, a DRM problem should not result in persistent sequential points of possible failure, AFTER taking all my info and Card, as it did for me. This is a two part sucker punch you do not want any customer to encounter. One Click Fix. work on that one ok?

Know why before you buy.. if you read this then you now know AMAZON UNBOX and VONGO are really WINDOWS DRM , but the technical why is still fuzzy. i will see what i can do.

Other things...

Resolutions: 1680 x 1050 pixel display.
You can get a decent personal sized LCD at 24" or more from BEST BUY for just under 300 bucks at this resolution. So i tried it. Its very good, be sure to have a nice nVidia graphics card, since it's Pure Video chip does a clean enough scaling job for regular DVD and 24p stuff. Played my 720p files very nicely. Played Apple and Windows Media files at both 1080 and 720p just fine. I was suprised, since the next aisle over had an Apple Monitor of the same size for huge #$$ and didnt look any better at all to me. Its the same old story where 1366 at 1 megapixel is less dots than 1680 which is less than 1920 at 2 megapixels. More is better.

FCC and 700mhz.
There is a new wireless option on the horizon.
Cisco and the like, are trying to get some of the freed-up from analog ( 2009 ) 60mhz or so of space in the 700mhz bands for local wifi channels that may well support some HD video speeds & internet service. It can easily do 10 miles line of sight. I Hope the FCC lets it happen, but this is complex, since it requires 2-way unique transmission. Some of this could leapfrog the 3G cell issue. We could all be talking thru the web on skype-like enabled iPhone type devices that can download an HD Movie and play it into the HDTV thru Bluetooth or something similar. Sound like a dream? yup, but it is quite do-able by these players and honestly would become the mobility and convergence we want anyhow. Worth doing for sure, but way down the road.

I cant wait to get the heck off of comcast and on FIOS TV. .. sorry comcast but your comcraptastic compression is so blocky that having a 1920x1080 TV is nearly pointless. May as well look at a 1366 x 768 for all the mpeg2 blocks i see... only ESPN and DISCOVERY / MOJO are clean. Might just be my location.... DIRECT TV claims to be better at HD, launched a new satellite to do it, but they are about equal at the moment for quality ( down the street ).
Saw FIOS TV somewhere else, and it killed me. I MUST HAVE THIS, no-brainer, if its in your area... get it.

PS3 withouthout the "e-motion engine"
My Verdict: the 80gb PS3 is probably the one to want, it actually uses the cell processing to get everything done and the newer system is better. Give Sony some more time, they have a real-time OS ( operating system ) to finish tuning for all this and that takes a lot of effort. I worked an operating system in the past and know that optimized code and process bloats can and do get found and tuned up. Same thing for the Red Ring of Death in the XBOX 360... this too will pass, it's a great gamer engine.


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